Friday, October 23, 2015

Interview with contemporary YA author Tom Early

To wrap up this week, I have Tom Early chatting with me about his new contemporary young adult fantasy novel, Aspect of Winter.

As part of his virtual book tour, Tom will be awarding a signed copy of Aspect of Winter to a lucky person. To be entered for a chance to win, use the form below. To increase your chances of winning, feel free to visit his other tour stops (listed at the bottom of the post) and enter there, too!

Tom Early is currently a student at Tufts University who probably spends more time than is wise reading and writing instead of studying. More often than not, he can be found wrapped in a blanket on the couch forgetting most of the things he was supposed to do that day. 

When not writing, Tom can be found either reading, gaming, drawing, scratching his dog, or bothering his friends. He also frequently forgets that it’s healthy to get more than six hours of sleep a night, and firmly believes that treating coffee as the most important food group makes up for this. If you show him a picture of your dog, he will probably make embarrassingly happy noises and then brag about his own dog. He’s always happy to talk about any of his previous or current writing projects, because people asking him about them reminds him that he should really be writing right now.

Welcome, Tom. Please tell us about your current release.
Aspect of Winter is a YA contemporary fantasy novel featuring a gay protagonist and a pansexual best friend as well as a bisexual love interest. Fay Hanson is a boy with powers who’s had enough of pretending to be normal at his high school, and he wants to go somewhere that he can finally belong. Sam is his best friend, and she’s not exactly normal either, as it turns out. When a representative from the mysterious Janus University approaches them and invites them to fight for a place at a college for those people with magic, they aren’t about to refuse. Along the way comes Tyler, a completely normal boy who gets dragged into the mess by a summoning attempt gone wrong, and together the three of them must fight to earn a place at Janus University, and Fay can finally be somewhere he feels like he belongs.

What inspired you to write this book?
I want to help with representation in YA lit, where LGBT characters are currently decidedly lacking. There aren’t enough books featuring LGBT protagonists out there right now, and I aim to change that. As for the story itself, I started writing it when I was going through the college application process myself. I wanted to see what it would be like if I turned the already competitive process into something that featured actual fighting for a place at a college, and Aspect of Winter was born. 

Excerpt from Aspect of Winter:
AS IT turned out, being wedged into the small space below the math wing staircase was exactly as uncomfortable as I’d imagined. Now, I was in there of my own choice, sort of. I held still and listened, letting out a sigh of relief when I heard the boys’ voices fading. I decided it was safe and did my best to wriggle out. Groaning, I brushed myself off and realized that I’d somehow managed to cover the majority of my backpack in a thick layer of dust. Rumor had it that years ago the staircase used to be green. Now it was gray. I looked at my backpack in disgust and let out a breath, concentrating. The dust glittered as a layer of frost covered it. When I hoisted my bag onto my back once more, the dust slid right off, the frost preventing it from clinging.

Clean backpack in hand, I trudged up the stairs, across the hall, and walked into the classroom. I took my customary seat in the back next to the poster detailing the derivative rules of calculus, feeling a flash of pity for Ms. King as I watched her try to get anyone to listen, and grabbed my book of the day as the front row began its usual antics. Today they asked Ms. King about her love life, which, while incredibly rude, was extremely successful in throwing her off-balance.

I would never understand high school, even after nearly four years of it. It seemed barely tolerable for everyone involved, including the people who fit in. I didn’t fit in, and so every day was a new chapter in the purgatory of hiding what I could do.
I sent a grateful prayer to the high school gods as class was interrupted by an announcement saying we needed to go to the nurse’s office for a new immunization or something. Ms. King pulled us out of the truly thrilling world of integrals and sent us down one at a time. I was one of the last to go.
Stepping back into the hallway, I prayed that I wasn’t going to run into any of Logan’s crowd again on my way down. The number of times I’d heard “fag” muttered under someone’s breath was already too high.
The school had two hallways running between the faculty area and the math wing, and most people took the lower one. I chose the glass hallway because it was usually empty (this surprised me as well, but apparently using stairs was just too much for many of my classmates), and it was pretty cool to be able to see the entire campus from what was effectively its highest point. I trailed a finger across the glass as I walked, leaving behind a fractal line of frost in the warm September air.
I smirked. For as long as I’d been at Owl’s Head High School, there had been, in the eloquent phrasing of high schoolers, “spooky shit” in the fall and spring where kids would come across ice or cold areas in warm weather. I knew I needed to keep my head down, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t have a little fun.

What exciting story are you working on next?
I’m currently busy working on the sequel, as well as another standalone high fantasy novel.

When did you first consider yourself a writer?
Probably when I sold my first book, back when Aspect of Winter was self-published. Once a complete stranger was willing to spend money on something I’d written, it felt like I’d done something I could be proud of.

Do you write full-time? If so, what's your work day like? If not, what do you do other than write and how do you find time to write?
I don’t write full-time. I’m currently a student at Tufts University, and most of my days are taken up with schoolwork. I usually manage to find a couple hours I can spend at the library to work on my novels, however.

What would you say is your interesting writing quirk?
I plan absolutely nothing out ahead of time. This makes my first drafts quite the stream of consciousness, but it also lets me finish the story a lot faster. Aspect’s first draft only took a little over a month to write. The editing process took much, much longer.

As a child, what did you want to be when you grew up?
When I was a kid I was determined to be a wizard and had absolutely no interest in doing any sort of job ever. It sounded too much like work. Now I’m thinking of becoming a librarian. Why not base my entire life around books?

Anything additional you want to share with the readers?

Everyone has a story in them, in one form or another. See if you can’t find yours and give it a shot! It’s always a lot of fun to see what’s inside your head on paper.
Buy links:

Virtual book tour stops:
October 19:

October 20:

October 21:

October 22:

October 23:

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